Stop ignoring your soleus muscle. The soleus originates on the tibia and fibula just below the knee. From there, it turns into the achilles tendon. It's hidden behind the big gastrocnemius muscle but it shouldn't be overlooked. It's more of an endurance muscle as compared to the power generating gastroc. One of it's roles is to decelerate dorsiflexion of the ankle during running or walking. When the soleus isn't doing it's job, the achilles tendon can end up overtaxed and painful. This single leg heel tap exercise challenges the soleus in this action.
Perform this exercise barefoot. Keep the heel on the ground. This is different from a single leg squat. You want the motion to come from the knee and ankle versus the hip and the knee like in a single leg squat. Avoid letting the knee cave in.
HOW TO USE:
Use this exercise as a warm-up for running or other workouts. You are going for endurance so start at 30 seconds in each direction and work up to 60 seconds.
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Tim DiFrancesco, PT, DPT, ATC, CSCS spent 6 seasons as the Head Strength & Conditioning Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers and is the founder of TD Athletes Edge. He is nationally renowned for his evidence-based and scientific approach to fitness, training, nutrition, and recovery for athletes and fitness enthusiasts.
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